MAHALO NUI KĀKOU
Thank you, everyone, for your support and fierce advocacy during the 2023 state legislative session. Because of our collective efforts, some significant bills that advanced social justice, equity, accountability, transparency, and civil rights and liberties made it to the governor’s desk.
In spite of these victories, there is still much work to be done! Throughout this session, lawmakers deferred bills that would have significantly advanced genuine public safety and justice reform, instead pushing forward measures and appropriating funds for projects that only further the systemic harms we’ve advocated against.
While resistance to change and meaningful reform can sometimes seem like the dominant narrative, we are committed to our campaigns for Smart Justice, Decriminalizing Poverty, and Reimagining Policing and energized by all we have and can accomplish together. The fight for justice and equity continues in the capitol, the courts, in the streets, and in the stories we share about those most impacted.
Since we started this year focused on legislative priorities related to Pretrial Fairness, Clean Slate, and Policing Data Collection (see one-pager here) and responded nimbly to the changing tides at the capitol, here are some key takeaways from this session. This report also provides information about our ongoing legislative and campaign priorities and ways we will continue pushing for change across Hawaiʻi.
Please stay updated by following us on social media or joining our e-mail list at www.acluhi.org.
In solidarity & gratitude,
ACLU of Hawaiʻi
LEGISLATIVE SCORECARD (jump to report)
We reimagine a Hawai‘i where no one is in jail because of a lack of resources and people have all their needs met regardless of wealth. As one of our top priorities, we advocated for measures aimed at fine and fee reforms, and strategies that eliminate economic and racial disparities for those most systemically oppressed.
Transforming our juvenile justice system requires a long-term commitment to governmental and community collaboration and implementing and funding proven strategies that advance rehabilitation and reduce recidivism.
- SR202 Data Collection Relating to Monetary Sanctions Against Minors (Passed)
- HCR72 Youth Rehabilitation (Passed)
- HB317 Eliminating Youth Fees and Fines (Deferred)
This session we championed several measures that advanced pretrial reform, fair processes for people awaiting trial, more equitable sentences, and reduced jail overcrowding, while carefully balancing constitutional rights and public safety.
This session we advocated for measures that require police departments and law enforcement agencies to be transparent, accountable, and responsible to the communities they serve.
- SB151 POLICE USE OF FORCE POLICIES (Passed)
- SB372 POLICE DUTY TO INTERVENE (Passed)
- HB880 POLICING DATA COLLECTION (Deferred) Fact Sheet
Mass incarceration harms not just those who are detained, but their families and our extended communities. Smart Justice means safer communities, fewer people behind bars, and fewer taxpayer dollars wasted on unnecessary incarceration.
- HB 823 Deaths in Custody Reporting (Passed, enacted into law as ACT 22!)
- HB 451 Waiawa Family Visitation Pilot Program (Passed)
- HB 877 Criminal Legal Institute for Healing and Restoration (Deferred)
- HB 67 Higher Education Puʻuhonua Project (Deferred)
- HB 1132 Hawai’i Correctional System Oversight Commission (Deferred)
Over 50% of people in Hawaiʻi are saddled with records, which creates barriers to accessing jobs, housing, education, starting a business, and participating fully in social and civic community life. Automatically sealing or expunging qualifying records for people after a reasonable period of time creates a smoother path to re-entry, reducing recidivism, and creating safer communities for all of us. These bills are incremental steps to expanding eligibility criteria for expungement and automating the expungement process.
CANNABIS LEGALIZATION & DECRIMINALIZATION
Far too many people are arrested and convicted for simple marijuana possession, needlessly entangling them in a criminal legal system that ruins lives. The enforcement of cannabis laws generates some of the starkest racial disparities, billions in financial waste, and counterproductive measures. This session we advocated for cannabis reform, legalization, decriminalization, expungement, and clemency for cannabis-related offenses. (Read our full “Statement on Cannabis Reform”)
- HCR51 Cannabis Clemency (Passed)
- SB669 Cannabis Reform (Deferred)
- HB237 Cannabis Legalization (Deferred)
CIVIL RIGHTS & LIBERTIES
Since 1965, the ACLU of Hawai‘i has worked to ensure that the government does not violate the fundamental constitutional rights of everyone–regardless of race, socioeconomic status, gender expression, sexual orientation, or anything else. We continue to fight for abortion access, gender equity, transgender rights, due process protections for vulnerable populations, and a safer, more just Hawai‘i
- HB 485 Marriage Certificates (Passed)
SB 1057 Pay Transparency & Equity (Passed)
SB 671 Fentanyl Strips (Passed)
HB 1154 Guardianship (Deferred)
HB 950 Assisted Community Treatment (Passed)
REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS & ABORTION ACCESS
With the devastating overturn of Roe v. Wade and the continued effort to block the FDA's approval of the abortion pill mifepristone, and pass anti-choice legislation criminalizing abortion, abortion access is under attack across the United States. Despite Hawaiʻi being the first state to legalize abortion, abortion, and healthcare access remains inaccessible to many women and other people across Hawaiʻi and the Pacific. (Read our full “Statement on the Dobbs Decision”) During this legislative session, we joined the Hawai’i Women’s Coalition and Hawai’i Abortion Collective to successfully advance reproductive rights in Hawaiʻi at the capitol.
- SB1 Reproductive Rights (Passed, enacted into law as ACT 2!
Despite success at the state capitol, our fight for abortion access continues in the courts. In October 2017, the ACLU filed a lawsuit, Chelius v. Azar, challenging the constitutionality of federal regulations restricting access to medication abortion. Our case is one of a handful of active lawsuits pending nationwide that could impact access to mifepristone, a medication used in half the abortions in the U.S. The abortion pill is the next frontier in the fight for reproductive freedom. Visit the ACLU Case Page for more info or sign the ACLU Petition at the bottom of this article
DEFENDING OUR DEMOCRACY
This session we advocated for reinvestment in things that keep our communities safe: housing, health care, jobs, education, and restorative justice. We supported a Peoples’ Budget that reflects the needs and values of our communities, protects our civil rights and liberties, and invests in healthy, safe, thriving, and just communities. We urged lawmakers to speak out during against funding for racist, ineffective, and overly punitive policing and incarceration policies, and in favor of investment in collaborative equitable evidence-based decarceration approaches. Several of them did! (Read our full statement “Relating to the State Budget”)
Visit Honolulu Civil Beat for additional info: “The Hawaii Legislature is Broken”
STRATEGY FOR THE FIGHT AHEAD
The 2023 legislative session has ended, but our advocacy and policy work is not done. We will be tracking these bills to the finish line! We’ll be submitting comments to the Governor to request his support on bills we championed and vetoes on those that infringe on our civil rights and liberties. We'll urge him to fulfill his campaign promise to use his Clemency powers to correct injustices in our criminal legal system. We'll keep fighting to stop the release of funding for "Cop City" and the expansion of the OCCC jail. We'll also see you at future public ed events. Look out for updates on the release of our forthcoming Clean Slate Report and for more info about new opportunities to engage and build safe thriving communities with us. Let's advocate for the Hawaiʻi we all deserve!